Support for sustainable welfare? A study of public attitudes related to an eco-social agenda among Swedish residents

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (compilation)

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This thesis explores Swedish residents’ attitudes related to an eco-social agenda from a sustainable welfare perspective. It investigates public support for general policy goals related to an eco-social agenda as well as for specific eco-social policies. The thesis also analyses the significance of the individuals’ socioeconomic characteristics, their values, and the context they are situated in relation to the attitudes they express. It also explores what kind of political activities they are involved in (if at all) to prevent climate change and promote societal change, and how various modes of political action are associated with the attitudes. This kind of study is crucial in times of imperative social-ecological transformations where the strive towards sustainable welfare and the realising of an eco-social agenda can be seen as key in a just and climate-neutral society. Public support and engagement in terms of both attitudes and political action are central components in societal transformations in democratic societies.
The thesis is a compilation thesis based on four research articles. It follows a quantitative research design by analysing data from an original cross-sectional survey study by the means of, for example, regression and multiple correspondence analyses. The survey study followed a stratified random sampling strategy targeting residents living in Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmö, and Sweden at large.
The results show that quite a substantial share of Swedish residents express attitudes consistent with an eco-social agenda from a sustainable welfare perspective, even though comparatively large shares of the respondents also express sceptical attitudes. This suggests that the respondents tend to be rather divided in their attitudes, a finding that seemed to be enhanced when the individual-level and contextual-level factors that were associated with the attitudes were taken into account. The individual-level and contextual-level factors – which were categorised in the four analytical concepts of homo economicus, homo sociologicus, homo locus and homo politicus – are in various ways and degrees associated with the attitudes. One factor, i.e., political ideology, stand out in the sense that it is significantly and strongly associated with the attitudes both when measured in terms of support for general policy goals and for specific eco-social policies. The results thus point towards a political polarisation in attitudes related to an eco-social agenda. Consequently, the thesis shows that there are obstacles that need to be overcome in the strive towards sustainable welfare, for example in terms of bridging attitudinal gaps and changing the present political agenda.
This thesis contributes, in general, to research and literature that focus on the intersection between climate change and social policy, and in particular to the newly emergent research that explores the intersection between social welfare and environmental attitudes.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • School of Social Work
  • Johansson, Håkan, Supervisor
  • Koch, Max, Supervisor
  • Wallander, Lisa, Supervisor
Award date2023 Jan 13
Place of PublicationLund
ISBN (Print)978-91-89604-72-8
ISBN (electronic) 91-89604-72-5
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Dec 6

Bibliographical note

Defence details
Date: 2022-01-13
Time: 10:00
Place: Socialhögskolans auditorium, Allhelgona kyrkogata 8, Lund
External reviewer(s)
Name: Van Lancker, Wim
Title: Associate professor
Affiliation: Centre for Sociological Reserach, KU Leuven, Belgium

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Social Work


  • Sustainable welfare
  • Public attitudes
  • Political action
  • Social-ecological transformations
  • Eco-social policy


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